Friday, August 21, 2015

NPS Medicinewise National Medicines Symposium 2014: Day 1

Pat Branford, HCCA Consumer Representative, attended the National Prescribing Service (NPS) MedicineWise National Medicines Symposium in late 2014 which was held over three days. The theme of the conference was ‘Medicines in Health: Shaping Our Future’.
Here is a summery on the first day. To read more about the other two days of the conference, click here.

Plenary 1 – Medicines in health: shaping our future
Two of the National Medicines Program objectives which are important are:
·         Timely access to affordable medicines; and
·         Medicines need to meet appropriate standards of quality, safety and efficacy.
Three emerging issues are:
1)      Medications are moving closer to the patient because of access to patient’s personal knowledge and data and patient’s ability to self manage;
2)      Data and knowledge; and
3)      Complex systems.
Three challenges were given the most relevant of them was:
1)      How can we create a system that brings medications closer to a patient in a way that is safe and provides quality outcomes?

Health Landscape in 2025, Mark McCrindle  (McCrindle Research)
·         Speed and scale of change has been very fast;
·         Need to observe, respond to and shape the future;
·         Demographic with economic change and generational change means we as a country are growing faster than any other OECD country;
·         Record number of births in Australia at the moment;
·         60% of net overseas migration is to Australia;
·         People are contributing longer to the workforce and life expectancy is longer now compared to 1995;
·         There is a diversification of the Australian population born overseas;
·         Health expenditure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is increasing; and
·         Total expenditure on public health has increased since 1995 but it is expected to decrease by 2025.
Other interesting statistics are:
·         742,000 medicines are dispensed each day in Australia;
·         342,000 people visit a GP each day in Australia; and
·         17,000 people visit an ED at a larger hospital each day in Australia.
If consumer preferences are likely to change and demands will change as well as a result and no doubt will increase.

From here to there – The Pathway to a Healthy Medicines Future:  Where do we start? Where does regulation fit? John Skerritt, National Manager (TGA Health and Safety Regulation)
·         There is a shift from the short term use of therapies (e.g. for infections) to now the management of chronic disease and conditions with medications;
·         Most people over 50 years of age have 3 co-morbidities;
·         Clinical trial evidence requirements for medicines registration have had to evolve because of the benefit/risk or tolerance to the medication differs for different populations and individuals; and
·         A question was posed whether – ‘off-label’ medicines prescribing were necessary because of the inability of regulatory approvals in keeping up with clinical trials and developments.

Melissa Fox, Co-ordinator, Health Consumers Queensland
Melissa spoke about the role of a health consumer and the potential impact of the proposed Federal 2014 Budget regarding the copayment fee for consumers visiting a GP and as Consumer Health Forum (CHF) stated the demolition of a universal health care system and consumers’ lack of understanding about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Melissa also stated that:
·         Consumers needed to be empowered and this can be done through health literacy;
·         Information needs to be provided to better manage their health condition – i.e. does the person know what they are taking and what happens if medications are swapped;
·         Consumers need consistency of information’;
·         The health professional needs to give information with the scripts and in ways to meet people’s needs i.e. low literacy levels and cultural and linguistic diverse background (CALD).

Summary Day 1
Some of the speakers from Day 1 were asked to provide a short summary on the fiscal responsibility question ‘is the quality use of medicines an outdated notion or, is it more relevant than ever if cheaper better safety critical medications are being used?’
·         Staggering number of prescriptions never filled or filled for one course only or only taken for a few days is a staggering health cost of the hospital. It is also a constraint to quality health outcomes;
·         If people were to take their prescribed medications then there would be a lot less people in hospital;
·         Health system is broader than the long term economic environment however, it would benefit from better compliance;
·         Consumers’ expectations are to have a better health care system because of the taxes they pay;
·         People have to be helped before they get to hospital;
·         Need better outcomes for both individuals and the health care system;
·         How do medications fit into prevention as people live longer and medications prolong people’s lives; and
·         Patients must be seen as people and people do manage their own health agenda.

Pat Branford

HCCA Consumer Representative

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